Somebody on Reddit asked this question: “What is the biggest “oh fuck, I’m dead” thing you’ve done at work, but nobody ever found out?”
Thousands answered, and we combed through the best to share them with you.
1. “I was essentially trapped at work…”
Had a truck turn up 15 minutes before the end of the day and in my rush/pure fucking anger to just get him unloaded ASAP so I could go home I drove through the roller shutter doors as they were still opening and “caught” them with the top of the mast.
I got the guy unloaded and on his way and tried to lock up hoping to explain it all away the following day.
The door was that bent it wouldn’t lock, as it wouldn’t lock I couldn’t set the alarms, I was essentially trapped at work and now an hour late from leaving.
In a moment of pure desperation I lifted the doors again and drove into them from the other side bending them enough to lock them up, set the alarms and get home.
I’d hit them a little too hard so they were now bent inwards and the bosses assumed someone had reversed into them during the night – the estate we were on was a notorious cruising spot for the local boy racers and there was always tyre marks or bits of car scattered round the place so they got the blame
2. “…the only way to activate a multi-million dollar security technology system.”
Lost a key dongle that was worth $32k.
This was 15ish years ago in a different state and career. The dongle looked basically like a USB thumb drive was was the only way to activate a multi-million dollar security technology system for a hospital in a big city.
The thing is, I was 100% sure I never had it and that it was missing from the packaging from the manufacture. Everyone I worked with also was not sure they ever saw it too. I was distraught and sick to my stomach at the possibility I screwed up somehow on something so stupid and cost costly but ended up being convinced we never received it.
The owner of the company I worked for and our lawyers had to get involved with the vendor to make an agreement with them to send us a replacement for a relatively small fee. I’m not positive after all these years on this cost but think it was around $5k.
No one was happy but we needed it and it was done.
Fast forward to years later. I’m living in a different state, now married and working for a different company in a different field and I decide I want to use the backpack I used to use at the old job where the dongle was lost. I still had some stuff in it so I clean it out, turn it upside down and shake it and hear something rattling around.
In the bottom of the big compartment of the bag, it looks like a solid piece. I dig my fingers around it and was surprised to find it was a flap. I open the flap and HOLY SHIT its the mother f’ing missing $32k dongle!
I was shocked and for a second, felt so damn guilty. But then I just laughed as it was already taken care of and years in the past. Still feel like a shithead thinking about it all these years later just a little bit.
3. “I left Gwar, Meat Sandwich, as our only muzak…”
Our muzak hold crap system was out of whack, so since I’m IT, I was tasked to fix it. Stupid proprietary audio files, stupid codecs, stupid hold music.
To pass the time, I ripped a gwar cd that I recieved as a gag gift a million years ago to the proprietary format and amused myself by throwing “Meat Sandwich” on loop for testing.
Finally got everything working, called it a night and went home for the rest of the weekend.
Monday morning, around 11am, I get a call. “Hi, Coyote? I think our muzak system is still broken. People are complaining about the songs and the sound?”
What? WHAT? Call my work into question? I tested it MYSELF. I personally made sure the audio format was working with my OWN MUSIC and…
I left Gwar, Meat Sandwich, as our only muzak for hold for our entire company.
I ran to the Datacenter, put everything back to default and the told them that it was “crossing channels” or some bullshit and everything was fine.
But we open at 6am. So for 5 glorious hours, Meat Sandwich was the music playing after the soft voiced woman told you to “Please Hold”.
4. “It was made out of diamonds or gold or something else fucked up.”
It was university.
They had this really expensive piece of equipment and I can’t remember exactly what it measured, or how it worked.
What I remember is this: you completed a “circuit” to power the thing, meaning you plugged a wire into 5volts or whatever came out of the wall, and another wire into the ground, and plugged both of them into the device (alligator clips baby).
What you got out of the wall was wayyyyyyyy too much current, so you had to put a resister between the wire from the wall and the device
The thing cost something ridiculous like 25k at the time. It was made out of diamonds or gold or something else fucked up.
Anyways, I got really pissed at my lab partner, just took over the experiment. And plugged the thing directly into the wall without a resister…
I basically fried the thing in a second.
I smelt burning and could see smoke come out of it immediately and knew exactly what I’d done.
As I literally thought “Oh fuck, I’m dead” and started realizing the gravity of my actions, this dude in a huge ass trench coat thing walks by my lab table, gets his coat caught in it and pulls the thing off the table. It lands on the ground and smashes into a million pieces.
Dude was walking with the guy who ran the labs, and that dude loses it on him.
I just sat in silence. I felt guilty but like I dodged the biggest bullet of my life.
I didn’t know definitively that I’d broke it, but I knew definitively that that dude had.
And I was too much of a coward to say anything.
5. “…my hot acid puke punched right through the bag and into my lap.”
It was the night before I was scheduled to have a tense meeting with my boss and a client. The meeting was supposed to be a sort of “peace talk” because of tension growing between my staff and the client who was an emotional and difficult person to work with. The night before my wife and I opened a bottle of wine with dinner and managed to finish it off before bed. This didn’t seem like too much at the time but the next morning I woke up sicker than I have ever been.
I still had this difficult meeting so I got up got dressed managed to choke down some Advil and a glass of water. The minute I get on the highway to work I feel my stomach twisting. There is nothing between where I am now and where my office is except highway with almost no shoulder.
Half way to work I feel that feeling in my throat, like a tightening, and my bowels are starting to make terrible noises. I realize I am going to throw up and look around my car for anything to throw up in. I spot McDonalds bag is on the floor so I grab it.
Hoping I don’t need to use it I speed up trying to get to my exit so I can pull over and ralph.
I held the bag up to my mouth going 85 MPH and throw up red wine into the McDonalds bag which had the strength of tissue paper because my hot acid puke punched right through the bag and into my lap.
By some miracle I had extra business slacks in my car. I stopped at a gas station and changed in the bathroom. I looked into the mirror and a haggard sallow man with flop sweat and sunken eyes stared back at me. Even with the wardrobe change I smelled faintly of booze and vomit. I went to the meeting and my boss noticed something was up. He rescheduled with the client telling me “I don’t think you’re up to it this morning”.
I for sure thought he was going to fire me for being a huge drunk but nothing happened.
I don’t drink wine anymore.
6. “Went home. Ate pizza. Couple hours go by.”
I was to supposed to meet a client outside of work to discuss a business opportunity.
Got permission to leave work early to go to an arranged meeting with the customer. I went on auto-pilot as soon as I started driving from work. Forgot about the meeting. Picked up a pizza. Went home. Ate pizza. Couple hours go by.
I didn’t have a phone number for the customer, so I never called or anything, just no-call no-showed on the customer.
Customer never said anything. Manager never asked about it.
7. “My life flashes before my eyes.”
Okay so I’m running a summer camp and half way through the day I’m comparing our bus attendance to the group attendance and I notice there is a little girl who was marked as being on the bus but not in her group. I go and check the group, no sign of her.
Other groups, nope.
No one has seen this six year old girl and we are out in bumble fuck nowhere and I am losing my shit. I have lost a child. We’re gonna get so fired and gonna need to call the cops and they’re gonna have to search the woods.
My life flashes before my eyes.
After fifteen minutes of oh my god my life is over my coworker pulls up with the news that she spoke to the girls mom and she did not come to camp that day at all, the bus attendance was an error. I was five minutes from calling my boss and instead I collapsed in the dirt with relief and tried not to cry.
8. “….we only have one kid.”
Summer martial arts camp, probably 10+ years ago. Several times a day, the entire camp would be called to line up on the gymnasium floor. Roughly 50-75 kids, probably in rows of 8, spaces with about 5 feet between each kid, all nice and orderly.
For the most part, everybody knew exactly where and which spot to line up on. It was pretty meticulous laid out, and we would spend 20 or 30 minutes on the very first day, making sure each and every person knew specifically which spot to line up on.
One day, lineup is called for lunch or something. Whistle blows, mob of kids come crashing from all around. Kids take their spots, settle in, counselors are talking, telling them what’s for lunch, somebody is probably walking through the rows of kids with a giant bottle of hand sanitizer spritzing each pair of outstretched hands. Suddenly somebody noticed an empty spot. They turned to the next kid over who was quite young (probably 7 ish) and asked who stands there. “Oh, that’s my brother”. “Well where is he??” “I dunno..”.
So they proceed to tear the whole place apart.
Swimming pool???!? Check. Bathrooms? Check. Girls bunk? Check. Kitchen? Check. Showers? Check.
You name it, they searched there, twice. Finally they have to call the parents and tell them that they LOST one of their kids.
How do the parents respond?
“….we only have one kid.”
Oh yeah, kid forgot to mention that his brother was IMAGINARY.
9. “…20 minutes later walking in the back to ankle deep water.”
I used to work for a big box pet store taking care of the animals that lived in the store. There was a rotation of the animals getting their accessories changed out and cleaned (i.e. water bottles, food bowls, plastic huts) every day. So each day the morning person cleaned that day’s habitats and the closer did the “dishes” in the sink and set them to dry and be put back in rotation for use.
It was sometimes difficult to complete any of these tasks while also dealing with customers. The sink we did dishes in was very deep and company policy stated that the dishes had to soak in a cleaning solution for a certain amount of time so it took a long time to fill up the sink with the solution to soak everything.
It was common to turn the water on to fill up the sink and go see if anyone needed help in the store while you waited.
Not long after I started working there I was performing this task and got pulled into a long conversation with a customer. Normally I’d duck in the back and turn off the faucet if I thought the conversation would take a while, but this night I just completely forgot the sink was on. Cue like 20 minutes later walking in the back to ankle deep water. The sink had overflowed and was filling the back space. The door had a rubber stopper at the bottom keeping it from going into the store
I took a squeegee thing and started herding the water into a drain on the floor on the back side of the fish wall but it took a long time. I was so frantic and still had to pay attention to customers out on the floor. Luckily no one else ever went into the back unless you worked in that department and I was working alone. So I managed to herd most of the water into the fish drain and the rest dried over night before the opener came in. No one ever knew I flooded the back space.
Few months later I realized flooding was a common occurrence and my manager flooded it at least once a year.
10. “We call it the doom button…”
I auto-archived 2500 records from our database with one button push. This removed them from active status and cancelled any associated reservations and services.
I had to click into each record and reinstate it. Took me 6 hours.
I admitted my folly at the next team meeting to ensure no one else had to go through the sheer butt puckering terror I did when those records disappeared. We call it the doom button now. Why there is a doom button I have no idea.
11. “…forklift tine and punched it all the way through her tailgate!!!”
When I was 18 I worked for Menards (like Home Depot). It was a small store with an outside yard that you couldn’t drive into so we would pick what you wanted with a forklift and load the customers out in the parking lot.
So this lady came in to pick up a bunch of special order bricks. I loaded two pallets of bricks into the back of her very nice new truck, she signed the paperwork and the transaction was done…. Until I sat in the forklift filling out my part of the paperwork and she backed into a forklift tine and punched it all the way through her tailgate!!!
I was 100% in the wrong as anyone who has ever driven a forklift knows that unless you are actively using the lift, you keep the tines on the ground if you’re parked, and a couple inches above while driving.
I had seen a guy get fired once for driving over a piece of cardboard instead of stopping to pick it up, so I was beyond screwed… but she just put it in drive and took off. She didn’t even look back at me. I expected that she was going to pull up to the front of the store to report it, but she just left. As far as I know she never reported it, and no one ever knew it happened.
That was 21 years ago and I think about that incident pretty often.
12. “…the captain made a wrong turn onto a narrow taxiway…”
When I was a brand new airline pilot we landed at an airport that required a long taxi back to the terminal. During the taxi the captain made a wrong turn onto a narrow taxiway that led to a small private hangar. As soon as he made the turn we knew it was the wrong taxiway, but it was very narrow with trees on both sides so there was no way to turn around. I had no idea how we were going to deal with this.
He thought for a minute, then said, “McGonogle, can you see the tower from here?”
I looked. “Nope.”
“Good. Then they can’t see us.”
With that, he reversed both engines and slowly backed onto the main taxiway. I guess the passengers thought it was normal because no one asked any questions and we never heard anything about it.
13. “…paperclip flew right over the small wall and hit a customer right in the head…”
when I was about 17 I used to internship at a bank through a school program. It was a small business bank so there wasn’t any glass like you see at big banks. The set up was 4 desks lined up next to each other with small walls separating them almost cubicle style but shorter. My desk was all the way at the end next to the wall.
Anyways, so I’m sitting at my desk bored one day with nothing to do so I grab a paperclip and start flicking it paper football style at the wall separating my desk and the one next to it. Ever ytime it bounced back I would flick it again.
Well one time I flicked it a little too hard and the paperclip flew right over the small wall and hit a customer right in the head that was waiting to be attended.
My heart sank and so did my head down to the desk as I tried to go unnoticed in hopes that they wouldnt know who did it. Looking back it was probably obvious that the 16 y/o boy was the one flicking paperclips and not the 40+ old ladies next to him.
Luckily I don’t think the customer knew what hit her and I was never blamed for it.
14. “I never had to fess up to my boss…
Working at a high end tour company, I backed a bus hitch into a guest’s BMW. Broke one of their tail lamps.
I picked up all the plastic remnants from the ground and taped a note to their window to find me when they returned from their tour to discuss the damage and go speak to the owner with me about insurance, etc.
I’d been breaking down my trip to make way for the next bus arriving, so I hadn’t had a chance to go tell my boss before they returned. The guest came and found me, laughing. Said someone had hit it a few weeks prior and it was already being processed through the insurance of the other person who had hit him, and not to worry about it.
He hadn’t realized that I’d done additional damage because it was the same tail light, nothing else was damaged and I’d picked up all the broken pieces from the ground, so it didn’t look that bad compared to what damage had already existed.
I never had to fess up to my boss about the incident and learned to never attempt to park the bus near the fancy cars again.